Friday, July 30, 2010

SPD Blog Carnival for Summer!

One of our summer goals with Jennica was to make sure that she had plenty of opportunities to experience "chaos" among other children.  She gained a lot of ground in the last school year in her ability to function in busy/noisy environments.  Now that we've made a little progress in this area, we sure didn't want her to "forget" over the summer.  Since our older daughter was playing soccer, it made good sense to sign Jennica up as well!  If you read my post from a few weeks back, you'll see that the first few practices did NOT go well.  But we stuck with it!  :)  We've got four more games to complete the season!   Way to go, Jennica!

Go Jen!  Headed upfield dribbling the ball! 

Jennica dissolving into "twisting" during a game.  (Look for my blog post soon regarding her endless hair-twisting issues!)
Jennica with our other beautiful daughter, Tiersten.  Note the baggie of GFCF pretzels in Jen's hand?  We keep crunchy snacks on the sidelines for her for chewing stimulation during game breaks.  :)
Jen's dark head, smack dab in the middle of a pile of obnoxious boys.  They were supposed to be waiting "quietly" on the sidelines while they waited for their turn on the field.  Instead, they thought wrestling was a better way to pass the time.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Another WINNER!

My oldest (very, very old) sister found this article in her Spokane newspaper!  As an SPD Mom that is always look for great information to share about SPD, and usually finding it very hard to come by, I'm THRILLED to give this article a resounding "thumbs up"!! 

Nice to see good information about SPD getting out!  I'm SO encouraged!!  Please follow the link!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Book Review!!!

I'm a little late to the party........but I finally got around to ordering Hartley Steiner's new book, "This is Gabriel Making Sense of School."  It arrived today from Amazon, and I hurriedly ripped open the box on the way to the girls' soccer game and ran out the door with it, thinking I would read it at the game.

Well.......I arrived at the game with it in hand, and my Mom and sister both read through it.  My sister is a special education teacher in Minnesota, and is here visiting for a couple of weeks.  Both my Mom and my sister were instantly impressed with both the simplicity and the depth of the information provided.  (Any of us that have ever attempted to explain SPD to anyone can relate to the difficulty of making the explanation simple, without being too deep--all at the same time.)

Soccer games are always more chaotic than I tell myself that they will be/should be.  So....I left the soccer game with the book still unread, and actually sat on the book for most of the game, as Jennica spotted the brightly-illustrated cover on one of her many passes by my seat, and demanded to read it immediately, rather than go back into the game.  So the book became my temporary seat cushion as I "hid it" from her to keep her from this distraction.  :)

And then home again.  And then dinner.  And finally bedtime, and out came the book.  So my first real read was with my 6-year-old SPD daughter planted firmly on my lap. 

First, I want to say that I enjoyed this book!  The information IS deep enough, and yet simplistic at the same time!!  The illustrations are bright and engaging!  I fully intend to share this book with our principal, our schoolteacher, our paraeducator, our occupational therapist, and virtually everyone else that I can convince to read it! 

My own positive review aside, my daughter recognized herself in this book!  Over and over and over!!!  She kept saying, "Just like me!" as I read to her about Gabriel.  What a wonderful gift to be able to read this book to her and let her feel like, even for a moment, she is not so alone and that there is another child out there like her!!!

A huge "Thank You!" to Hartley for a job well done!  (You go, Girl!  I look forward to seeing you again in Seattle in November!)

Buy it here:

Friday, July 23, 2010

Not Horsin' Around

Oh my.....what a week!  I wish I was expressing that in exhaustion from too much fun.  Instead, I've been soundly humbled by a sick horse. 

Yodi has been ever-so-slowly declining in outward signs of health for about the last 60 days.  I've been watching it happen, and waiting for it to turn around on its own or reach a point where I felt the need to do something.  But.....its been subtle.  His coat is dry and his skin is flaky.  I justified it by the very wet, moist Spring and Early Summer that we've had.......which followed a miserably wet Winter.  Was he losing a little weight through the topline?  One day I would think so.......the next day not so much.

Well......about 10 days ago, he was suddenly swelling in certain areas and seemed less "perky".  We immediately stepped up to the plate and started watching him more closely, but last Friday, the vet came out for a visit.  He tranquilized him for a tricky procedure, and I was really hoping for a simple infection to step out and say, "Hi!"  No such luck.  No infection.  And no sounds of lung congestion despite a dry cough with no nasal discharge.  And no fever.  So we sat back and observed for a few more days.

By this past Monday, he was showing signs of severe dehydration with soreness still acute in his spine.  Four horse-savvy adults attempted to pull blood out of him for testing before we figured out that our vacu-tainers were defective.  (Twenty+ needle holes later!  Geez......I love this horse.  He stood like a charm and would have happily drawn his own blood if he could hold the needles in his hooves.  We all decided that when the next set of riding students are ready to learn to give vaccines, THIS will be the horse we will use because he never raised a fuss.)  We finally got blood out of him using a syringe, I ran it to the vet courier, and it returned 24 hours later with signs of a depressed liver enzyme, and no other significant offages.

My vet was totally confused with the liver enzyme.  There aren't a lot of things that cause this number to go too low, and none of them fit Yodi's symptoms or life.  So.....I personally spoke with a Veterinarian at WSU's Diagnostic Labs and he graciously offered to review the results.  I faxed them over to Pullman, and am still waiting to hear an opinion or suggestion from them. 

Fortunately, while waiting for a determination of the next step, Yodi's swelling, all-over body soreness, and dehydration have resolved.  He's still coughing, but I'm watering his hay for the time being to lower the irritation of inhaled dust.  His spine is still sore, but a bit better after a full week of rest and spoiling.  I've stepped up the insect repellants, and altered his feed slightly to add electrolytes. 

Once I hear from WSU, I'll know what step comes next.  For the time being, I'm hoping that we're past the worst?  Not quite sure what caused any of this, and we still have his coat and skin condition to address.  But its been a LONG WEEK! 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The boys of summer

The boys are home from football camp!  They are sunburned and tired and hungry.......but had a GREAT time!  Our school has not attended a football camp in many many years, and this year was a definite success.  They even came home with a TROPHY!!! 

Please laugh at the photo of their legs!!  I am!!!  Grant is the one on the left with the "socks."  Dane isn't much better, but was smart enough to at least wear lower socks. 

Mike came home late last night, and the rest of the team returned this morning.  I have to say that its rather amusing to compare the same stories from the adult/coach perspective vs. the teenage boy perspective.  :)

Its nice to have them home! 

Monday, July 12, 2010

The fight for dexterity

I've attended enough SPD educational offerings, read enough SPD blogs and texts, and spent enough time with occupational therapists that specialize in the SPD field to know that handwriting is a very common challenge for kiddos with these issues.  The reasons for handwriting challenges are about as diverse as the kiddos themselves.......and the answers and solutions are just as diverse. 

Jennica is no exception to the handwriting issue.  We've seen it coming but, in all honesty, lots of 6-year-old neuro-typical children also have handwriting issues.  So.......its hard to get anyone real excited about it.  The schoolteachers sort of shrug and say, "She's within normal age range on this skill."  Yeah.......but for how long? 

So handwriting is the #1 issue that I have requested help from our OT for the summer.  I'm probably a little ahead of the game, but Jennica has to get this a little bit resolved in the next year.  (I happen to be a rabid opponent to teaching keyboarding for first grade for anyone that is physically capable of mastering the basic tasks involved.  Reality tells me that, regardless of a child's future path, they HAVE to be able to write to some degree to function normally in life.)  I'm not foolish enough at this point to say, "Fix her.  You've got 10 sessions."  Instead, I walked in the door today and said, "Teach me about handwriting and what it truly takes for the hand to write correctly."  Bless her heart, our OT opened her door of knowledge and shared a little with me.  I am volumes ahead of where I was this morning.......and its all bursting out of my brain in fits and starts tonight.

First of all, she showed me that Jennica has a fairly weak use of her opposable thumb.  Interesting......and after having being shown what she was talking about, I feel like I should have noticed it before!!!  She assured me that without the skills that we have been building in the past year already, it wouldn't have really mattered if I noticed it before or not......Jen wasn't ready to focus on this issue until now.  (Whew!  No guilt then for missing the signs on this one!) 

So......we have to focus on strengthening "grasp."  And not just "pencil grip" in the traditional sense.  But actually training the fingers how to work in sync with the thumb.  I wasn't sold on it, until I literally watched my daughter today move her thumb (with prompting) to a new position and her fingers immediately lost their ability to function!  Her fingers no longer knew what to do when her thumb went to a new position!!  Fascinating!!

I have a lot to learn so that I can help guide Jen's daily life to include more use of her thumb.  Picking up toys off the floor.........swinging on the monkey bars at the playground........holding the chains on the swings.......Everything will now have to include a quiet "prompt" to make sure that her thumb is in the opposable position.  She's going to struggle with coordination at first, but I can see the progress coming quickly with this one.  Of course, that might be the optimist speaking.  :)

And meet my new friend!  Jen will have to give her a name.  But each day, Jen will be responsible for "feeding" our friend beads, cotton balls, and anything else that we can think to feed her.  The goal?  Squeeze to open her mouth. 

I LOVE occupational therapists!  They are the coolest, most innovative people on earth!  Thank you, Renae, for sharing your knowledge with me! 

Saturday, July 10, 2010

No Boys Allowed!

Mike and the boys are headed to football camp for a few days.  Which means that........the girls are home alone!!  Wahoo!! 

Now......its not like it going to be a party with me and a 7-year-old and a 6-year-old.  But then again.......the girls are home alone!!  Wahoo!!

Less laundry.......less dirty ESPN on TV......and popcorn and ice cream for dinner!  Its a PARTY!! 

Friday, July 09, 2010

Why do we see? And how?

I'm not a mechanical sort of person by nature.  I don't really care how things work, or why, as long as they do work when I turn the key, step on the gas, or whatever.  But when it comes to the human body, I'm constantly fascinated.  The more I learn about sensory processing through Jennica's challenges, the more fascinated I become. 

Our recent vacation through wide open countryside with panoramic views really brought home my fascination with eyesight.  I do our eyes WORK???

Jennica is very, very good at picture-find games.  You know the ones....I Spy books, Where's Waldo?, that sort of thing.  She sees detail very, very well and can pick specific objects out of a larger array of pictures that are similar in shape, size, color, you-name-it.  But she also has an overwhelming visual processing issue with "busy" fields of sight.  Primarily, if lots of things are moving all at the same time, especially if there is a lot of accompanying noise, she retreats!  (Think school assemblies, PE class, and soccer!!) 

Tiersten, on the other hand, is very naturally athletic and is not disturbed in the least with dribbling a soccer ball through a running herd of players.  (Jen can dribble just as well in a one-on-one environment across the yard.  But if other kids are moving and running?  Forget it!)  But Tiersten can't see a group of deer on a distant hillside to save her life!  She couldn't spot the outline of the Jolly Green Giant laid out across a hillside in Dayton!  (Neither could I at Age 5!  Still a sore subject!!!) 

So..........sometimes I stop and ask Jen's Sensory Processing really a disorder?  Or just an individual difference in personal strengths, weaknesses, and talents? 

In my humble opinion, I think over time it will become just a difference.  I see her making huge strides to adapting the way she processes to function in the neuro-typical world.   As long as her sensory processing restricts her from being able to participate fully in "typical" environments, her SPD is a disorder.  But I also think its good for her to be able to count the deer aloud in the car, while Tiersten is still struggling to even find them on the hillside.  :)  Its fun to watch her be victorious! 

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Home again, Home again, Jiggety-Jig!

We left the confines of rainy Western Washington for 5 days over the weekend and spent it in Mike's homeland--the remote NE corner of Oregon, Idaho, and SE Washington.  I could have skipped the portion that involved a very treacherous dirt road in Hell's Canyon (made this country girl feel like a city girl), but was a good weekend!  With the boys now in their teens, we are feeling a sense of the ticking clock on the time that we have left for vacations with all four kids.  *Sniff* *sniff*

If you aren't familiar with the Pacific Northwest, our vacation destination was vastly different from rainy Western Washington.  The lifestyle.....the weather......the wildlife.....the topography......everything.  While we certainly don't live in a metropolitan area, the boys would be quick to point out that its more metro than NE Oregon!  (Think cattle guards on the road leading into the K-12 school campus.  And yes....K-12 all in ONE building.) 

But it was great to get away!  We saw some beautiful scenery in the Wallowa Mountains, and had a great time visiting with some of Mike's family on the way home.  We even did a drive-by on my crazy uncle's house in Dayton, but darn, he wasn't home.  (I'm safe referring him to as my crazy uncle here.  He thinks computers are evil and will never hear about this.  And besides.....the description is accurate.) 

Aside from Disneyland, this was probably the best vacation we've ever had with Jennica.  We didn't provide a lot of accomodations for her sensory system, other than "her" food, and she did okay!  We had a few whiny episodes, but I never once fought the temptation to duct tape her to the nearest flag pole!  :) 

I'm attaching a few photos from our trip.  The family shot was taken by a gracious motorcycle dude in Hell's Canyon.  The scenery shot is of the Wallowa Mountains.  And the barn......well......I'm an appraiser after all.  I thought the octagonal design was just cool!  :)


Thursday, July 01, 2010

Berry obsessed

Jen lives for fresh fruit.  And broccoli.  Seriously. 

The average adult tends to react with narrow-minded sympathy when they hear of her food allergies.  If I were not traveling this path, I suppose I might react the same way, but I am much more aware these days of exactly how many foods are available in the world that don't contain any form of gluten, dairy, eggs, or peanuts.

And for Jen.....she's not suffering.  She has recently developed a general dislike for red meat, unless it is hidden in spaghetti or some sort of taco-type dish.  But other than the red meat issue, to which we're still adjusting, she has a wide range of foods that she loves.  And she has cravings just like any other kid.  However, her cravings might sound funny at first.  Coconut milk ice cream.  Broccoli.  Broccoli.  Broccoli. 

But this summer I'm giving Jen some stiff competition on strawberries.  I bought some a few weeks ago, and they were so good.  I keep buying them.  And eating them.  Usually it is Jennica that can't keep her paws off the strawberries.  This year, its me!  I really didn't even like strawberries in the past!!  I'm usually more of a chocolate sort of girl! 

So.....think of me this weekend.  I intend to spend my 4th of July weekend consuming as many strawberries as possible! 

Have a happy & safe 4th!